This month, UofT Research announced the second annual Inventors of the Year awards. Michael Brudno, Eyal de Lara, and alumni Andres Lagar-Cavilla, Adin Scannell, and Joseph Whitney were recognized for their work in cloud computing.
The award citation:
Eyal de Lara & Michael Brudno, Co-inventors: Andres Lagar-Cavilla, Adin Scannell, and Joseph Whitney -
Professors Eyal de Lara and Michael Brudno in the Department of Computer Science, and former students Andres Lagar-Cavilla, Adin Scannell, and Joseph Andrew Whitney are the inventors behind Virtual Machine (VM) Fork.
Virtual Cloud computing is transforming the information technology landscape by shifting the hardware and staffing costs of managing computational infrastructure to third parties, such as Amazon or Yahoo!. The pay-per-use model of cloud computing makes it possible for organizations and individuals to deploy global-scale services, while only paying for the marginal cost of the actual resources used. In an ideal cloud, ‘elastic' servers grow and shrink in tight concert with demand. Unfortunately, creating new servers in existing clouds is slow, and once booted, the server's performance-critical buffers are essentially empty, which degrades performance when it is most needed to service demand spikes. These behaviours detract from the cloud vision of matching resource usage to actual demand, and thereby inflate user costs as a result.
Released under an open source software license, VM Fork is a software-based invention, which simplifies the development and reduces the management burden of cloud applications. VM Fork enables on-demand application scaling by instantly cloning a server into one or more replicas, in mere seconds. VM Fork is being commercialized by GridCentric (www.gridcentric.com), a Toronto-based start-up founded by UofT graduates Andres Lagar-Cavilla and Adin Scannell. It has attracted seed funding from Rogers Ventures and Critix Corp. Copper, GridCentric's commercial offering of VM Fork, is currently running on clusters at SHARCNET and the University of Manitoba, among other installations.
VM Fork has the potential to be a disruptive technology by providing a more efficient alternative for the deployment of applications on the cloud. The swift response time offered by VM Fork eliminates the current need to overprovision idle VMs in order to handle variations in application load. By reducing the number of active VMs needed to run an application in steady state, VM Fork can significantly reduce power and cooling costs, and minimize environmental impact.
A PhD Dissertation describing VM Fork was awarded the 2010 NSERC Doctoral Prize. A paper describing VM Fork won Best Paper Award at Eurosys 2009. A paper describing a technique that uses VM Fork to clone databases won the Best Student Paper Award at Systor 2011.
See the news story on the 2012 Inventors of the Year here. Congratulations, all!